INTRODUCTION – OVERVIEW
Many Australians are affected by family, domestic and sexual violence each year and the potential adverse effects of these experiences can be long lasting. Results from the crime victimisation survey in 2011-12 estimated that there were 6.4 million incidents of physical or threatened assault in 2011–12 that affected an estimated 1.1 million people (ABS, 2013a).1
In 2005, it was estimated that 40% of women (3,065,800) and 50% of men (3,744,900) had experienced some form of violence (ABS, 2006).2 This survey also estimated that 19.1% of women (1,469,500) and 5.5% (408,100) of men had experienced sexual violence.3 It is difficult to ascertain from the data what proportion of these acts were family and domestic violence events. What is known is, of the 1.7 million people who experienced violence from a current and/or previous partner in their lifetime three quarters were women (76%).4 Women were three times more likely than men to experience violence by a current and/or previous partner in their lifetime: 16.6% of women (1,280,000) and 5.7% of men (429,900) (ABS, 2006).
In 2012 it was estimated that 51,000 people aged 18 years and over were victims of sexual assault, and less than a third of these victims reported the incident to police (ABS, 2013a). The low rate of reporting of sexual assault to police is supported by the findings from Recorded Crime, Victims Australia, where police recorded approximately 17,000 victims of sexual assault in 2011 (ABS, 2012).
Acts of violence also attract significant economic costs for the Australian community. It is estimated that violence perpetrated against women alone costs the Australian economy $13.6 billion each year. By 2021 this figure is predicted to increase to $15.6 billion (FaHCSIA, 2009a).
While existing data provide a broad picture of the nature and extent of family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, there are many aspects of these types of violence that remain unexplored, and questions that remain unanswered. The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) National Plan to reduce violence against women and their children (National Plan) recognises this and is committed to building a strong evidence base. The Commonwealth, states and territories are working together support this through the development of information papers and other tools to assist government and non-government organisations (NGOs) to produce nationally comparable statistics.
The momentum towards developing a sound evidence base in this area mirrors previous trends in demand for robust information to inform government policy in the areas of income, housing, health, education and justice. This process is critical to support governments in monitoring key outcome areas of the National Plan.
1 Aged 15 years and over.
2 Violence includes any incident of: physical assault; physical threat/threatened physical assault; sexual assault and/or; sexual threat/ threatened sexual threat, since the age of 15 years, only asked of respondents 18 years and over.
3 Sexual Violence includes any incident of: sexual assault and/or; sexual threat/ threatened sexual threat, since the age of 15 years, only asked of respondents 18 years and over.
4 Current partner is defined as a partner the person is currently living with and includes both married and defacto relationships; ‘Previous partner’ is a partner who the person may or may not have been living with at the time; includes both married and defacto relationships.
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